Governments and tobacco
Globally four major companies and government monopolies control a US$400 billion trade in cigarettes. These cigarette monopolies, directly or indirectly controlled by governments, take away US$1 from every US$175 that people earn. China and USA are leaders in this extortion game.
Tobacco – India Govt.’s ‘innovation’
The Indian State also, on a much smaller scale, replicates this same mechanism. Since Indians consume tobacco in a traditional, non-industrial manner, the Indian State changes the method of extortion. Apart from tobacco, the main ingredient of bidis, is tendu leaf. Tendu leaf is used to roll the tobacco in. While tobacco farmers are exempt from income tax, adivasis have to sell all their produce to the State. For which the State pays them wages. A newspaper reports
Over the last two decades, the graph of tendu patta wages has shot up. This year, the Chhattisgarh government raised the wage rate from 70 paise to 80 paise per bundle of 50 leaves. But collectors like Bargu earned higher wages (Rs 1.05 paise) courtesy the Maoists. As the parallel authority in large parts of Bastar, they fix wages and even a system of wage payment.
For instance, officially, the state government’s minor forest produce federation auctions each lot of tendu leaves. Traders or contractors pay a sale price to the federation. A portion is sent to the federation’s field managers, who are supposed to disburse it as wages to the adivasis. But, in reality, the managers simply hand the money back to the contractor, who adds an extra wage amount fixed by the Maoists and sends his own staff to pay off the collectors.
“In our areas, we bargain with the contractor every year, and get a higher price for the adivasis,” says Gudsa Usendi, Maoist spokesperson. ”Last year, it was Re 1. This year it’s between Re 1.05 to Re 1.20. This way, we have stopped the exploitation of adivasis.”
That’s not an empty boast — but it’s only partially true. The Maoists have wrangled higher wages for the adivasis and expanded their support base, but they have also obtained higher levies for themselves. Most traders refused to divulge exact amounts, some reluctantly offered a rough range: 5-10% of the sale price. For one Rs 1 crore, that works out to Rs 5-10 lakh.
“The market of tendu leaves is not less than Rs 2,000 crore,” says K Sadavijaya Kumar, of the Association of Beedi leaf traders. Given that at least a quarter of the tendu growing areas appears to be under Maoist control, the amount of levies could run into crores.
By maintaining a monopoly over the ownership and sale of leaves, the state earns revenue. In 2009, Chhattisgarh Minor Forest Produce Federation made Rs 256 crore from tendu leaves. Rs 189 crore was paid to the collectors, and Rs 66 crore retained by the federation. (via Tendu leaves little hope for tribals – The Times of India).
And the Maoist- Naxalites are fighting with the State for ‘exploitation-of-adivasis‘ rights. From being owners of India’s forests, under भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra, the adivasis have become wage earners. By this one single action, the State has impoverished crores of adivasis. Such are the reasons for Indian poverty – The Indian State.
- Bamboo is liberated, says Jairam Ramesh (hindu.com)
And the Maoist- Naxalites are fighting with the State for ‘exploitation-of-adivasis‘ rights.
Things go bump in the night
In the early hours of 2nd May, 2011, an obscure twitter-user started tweeting about the US raid on Osama Bin Laden’s safe-house – 35 km from Islamabad, 200 miles south of the Afghanistan border, in Abbottabad. In a city, which houses Pakistan’s equivalent of Indian Military Academy.
But Pakistan’s police, para-military, military forces claimed ignorance, showed surprise, feigned outrage. Par for the course. Was it abject failure or a cover-up in Pakistan , by the powers-that-be?
Afraid of the mullah-madrasa-mujahid combine, predictably, Pakistan started denying any role in the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Truly Pakistan ‘doth protest too much, methinks’. Secret deal or not, in the past or post-facto, a deal around killing Osama could have been easily hammered out between Pakistan and USA.
It suited both the leaderships.
It is election time in USA
Pakistan was not alone in using Osama. Osama alive was source of US funds for Pakistan. Osama dead is an election ticket and a feel-good factor for the a USA being battered by the Great Recession. As Rajiv Dogra points out, on the opposite side of the world,
The timing suited Obama well. It had long been speculated that Osama would be killed around the time Obama’s re-election campaign kicked off.
Predictably, the US made a song-and-dance about the annual aid of US$3 billion that they dole out to Pakistan. Compared to the US$3 trillion that the US Department of Defence is unable to account for, this talk of US$3 billion makes for poor form.
On a lighter – and logical side
Famous for the song केम छे ‘kem che, kem che’ from the film जिस देश में गंगा रहता है Jis Desh Mein Ganga Rahta Hain, a Bollywood songwriter confidently predicted, soon after 9/11, that Bin Laden would be found near the White House or Islamabad!
Coming to India
Memories dimmed, history forgotten, India draws wrong conclusions from these Western adventures in our neighbourhood.
After WWII, as British, French and Dutch colonialists were being thrown out of Asia, in country after country, the West was in real danger of losing markets and raw material sources.
A new power, fueled by a growing migrant population, USA, took the place of tired, old powers – Britain, France and the Dutch. Instead of the openly exploitative system of European powers directly running colonial governments in these Asian countries, the US installed an opaque system – which is equally exploitative. To impose its writ on the newly independent Asian countries, the US simply destroyed their economies by war. The USA, then instituted the innovative USCAP Program and ‘helped’ these countries. These countries (Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, et al) were now ruled by overtly independent regimes – but covertly, client states of the USA.
US multinationals and home-grown oligarchs (keiretsus, chaebols, etc.) took over the economy – and sidelined British, French and Dutch companies. To impose this economic model, US armies, using nearly 1 million troops, killed 50 lakh Asians. The takeover of European colonial possessions by the USA was handled over 3 regimes of Eisenhower-Kennedy-Johnson seamlessly.
Between a rampant USA, behind biggest terror spots of the world, and a nuclear-armed, imploding Pakistan, India’s choices are difficult – and reactive policies inadequate.
Once more, Osama’s death and Obama’s antics bring out India’s policy inadequacy in sharp relief.
- Cable: Pakistan military learn anti-Americanism (cbsnews.com)
- Bin Laden’s Pakistan villa: Tourist destination? (cbsnews.com)
- Osama bin Laden dead: Pakistan returns helicopter wreckage (telegraph.co.uk)
- You: Drones hurting national integrity (nation.com.pk)
Centre has shared an updated dossier of 31 most wanted terrorists — including 19 of IM and 12 of the other Lashkar-SIMI front, Jama-i-tul Ansarul Muslimeen (JIAM) — with states, asking them to launch a manhunt for them. Security agencies believe that 10 terrorists may be hiding somewhere in the country.
With a majority of them suspected to be in West Asian countries like the UAE and Qatar on Pakistani passports, India has sought help from these nations in the wake of the Varanasi blast.
“A list, comprising 17 top IM terrorists, including Bhatkal brothers — Riyaz and Iqbal — the outfit’s bombmaker Yasin Bhatkal, financer Mohsin Chaudhary and technical expert Abdus Subhan Usman Qureshi alias Tauqeer, has also been with Pakistan for over nine months,” said a senior home ministry official. New Delhi had shared these details with Islamabad during foreign secretary-level talks in February. (Post-Varanasi, govt on hunt for 31 ‘wanted’ – The Times of India).
Small numbers …big problem
31 terrorists is India’s problem. The answer to these 31 operatives is dedicated teams for each terrorist. Teams drawn from the 10 affected states, with 2 specialists from each state, dedicated to the task of booking these 31 terrorists. 620 in all. 30 support staff. 6 in information technology; 12 in accounts & admin another twelve in documentation and secretarial section. Another 50 experts in language, cipher, psychology, intelligence, politics and culture can support this group. 700 people in all. To hunt down these 31.
Replacing these 31 operatives will be tough for any organization.
Let’s do the numbers
Indian police has a superb network of ‘humint.’ But, they need more than that – for neutralizing terror.
There are finally less than 1000 SIMI + HuJI activists who could be future terrorists. There are a similar 1000 Kashmiri terrorists. What India needs to do, is to set up a national database on these 2000 suspects – allot (say) teams of 5 policemen to these 1000 suspects.
Monitoring the activities of the 2000 suspects cannot be a national pastime. With neural networks and similar ‘intelligent’ systems, India police should be able to improve their ‘intelligence.’
2ndlook plan for terrorism
2ndlook has been working on a plan to tackle terrorism for 30 months now – resting on an intel-based theme. Not on more – computers, policemen, organizations.
The first output in this plan was the answer to counterfeit currency problem. 2ndlook analyzed this problem (in September 2008) down to a handful of Western companies, their Governments and proprietors who supply Pakistan with the paraphernalia to make fake currency notes. India needs to tackle these 12 companies and about 4 Governments.
The second stage in this plan was 50 days before 26/11 Mumbai attacks – on October 3rd 2008. Specialist teams to tackle identified, confirmed, proven terrorist candidates – DAT Teams (Dedicated Anti-Terrorist Teams). Instead of Western-style Draconian laws, which depend on mass jails, kills, hanging, State Terrorism, torture, India must depend on a targetted alternative.
For numbers will set you free
After 26/11, came a bigger 2ndlook anti-terrorism plan. Without demonizing Pakistan, or Pakistanis. Further development of better data came in December 2009, when specific numbers were revealed by Army Chief Deepak Kapoor. 42 terrorist camps is what the Indian intelligence agencies had estimated. Instead of putting a full army on alert, is it not possible to lob grenades into these 42 army camps every month for six months. With such sustained attacks comings in, how long will this structure-of-terrorism hold up.
Indian Government has taken action on some of these proposed points. The FCN issue was taken up with the necessary Euro-zone countries. India also decided to make its own security paper, instead of depending on unreliable-and-unethical European companies.
- Collusion or collaboration? The Think Tank Initiative (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- 26/11 – The Maldives Connection (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- Mujahedin Attack Shows India Still Terror-Prone (newsweek.com)
- The IPI-TAPI Story (quicktake.wordpress.com)